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Explaining Trump and Russia; Greece’s stability threatened by the renaming of Macedonia.
Trump claims he didn’t work with Russia
- President Donald Trump faced an extraordinary question on Monday after a weekend of new revelations about the Trump/Russia investigation: Did you ever work for Russia, a hostile foreign power? [Vox / Andrew Prokop]
- The Washington Post reported this weekend that Trump concealed details of a meeting with Putin, which took place in Helsinki, Finland, last summer. Trump allegedly took an interpreter’s notes and told her not to inform others of what had occurred in the meeting. [NPR / Philip Ewing]
- “I think that’s the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked,” Trump said Monday when reporters inquired. He also claimed he knew nothing about what had happened to the notes from Helsinki. [NPR / Philip Ewing]
- The lack of transparency in Trump’s meetings with Putin heightened suspicions and violated traditional presidential protocol of making meeting records available to officials, or including advisers in high-priority conversations. [The Washington Post / Greg Miller]
- Democrats argue that the reports are another damning detail in Trump’s relationship with Russia, whereas some members of the GOP believe a reported FBI counterintelligence investigation of Trump was a form of partisan conspiracy. [The Atlantic / Andrew Kragie]
- The reports come right before Tuesday’s confirmation hearing of attorney general nominee Bill Barr. Barr has already promised to allow special counsel Robert Mueller to continue his investigation into possible collusion and obstruction of justice. [The Wall Street Journal / Sadie Gurman]
Greek PM calls for vote of confidence
- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a vote of confidence to occur Wednesday after his defense minister, Panos Kammenos, dramatically resigned. The minister stepped down to protest legislation renaming the country of Macedonia. [The New York Times / Niki Kitsantonis and Iliana Magra]
- “Macedonia” is also the name of a province within Greece’s borders, and nationalists believe the name should only belong to Hellenistic people. North Macedonia is the new name given to the Balkan country just north of Greece. If it ratifies the new name, Greece has promised to no longer veto North Macedonia from NATO and EU membership. [BBC News]
- The popularity of renaming Macedonia could impact Greece’s elections next fall. If the confidence vote does not reveal support for Tsipras, the country could be on the brink of an early election. [Bloomberg / Eleni Chrepa and Sotiris Nikas]
- Greece has not recognized Macedonia as a nation since it became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991. Macedonia already ratified its new name last week in the hope of earning international credit, but conservative Greeks are likely to vote against ratifying the new name. [The Wall Street Journal / Nektaria Stamouli]
- Meanwhile, Greece is facing a €200 million fine ($229 million) from the EU’s anti-fraud authorities. Greek officials failed to stop a Chinese trade network that was avoiding duties on imports. Greece needs money, and investors are more likely to feel confident in the country if an election happens sooner than later. [POLITICO Europe / Simon Marks]
- It’s the middle of Trump’s term. Fifty writers weigh in on his first two years in office. [The Atlantic]
- New York City, Washington, DC, and Baltimore: where the 24-day government shutdown is hitting the hardest. [The Wall Street Journal / Maureen Linke]
- California’s largest power company is going bankrupt over recent wildfires. Insurance claims are piling up after the fires destroyed thousands of homes and human lives. [The Washington Post / Hamza Shaban]
- Serena Williams is back at the Australian Open and chasing her 24th Grand Slam title. [The New York Times / Kurt Streeter]
- A female scientist in 1900 showed that although men have bigger skulls, that doesn’t make them smarter than women. She didn’t dispel similar myths about race. [Smithsonian Magazine / Leila McNeill]
“It’s 2019, yet the Trump administration is still trying to roll back women’s rights. Our coalition will continue to fight to ensure women have access to the reproductive health care they are guaranteed under the law.” [California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a statement on a court ruling on a mandate that employers provide free birth control.]
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